The probate process begins after a family member dies and someone, either the executor of the will or a family member, initiates proceedings in probate court. There are certain reasons why an estate would need to be probated. First, property that is owned solely in an individual’s name must always be probated. This applies even when the deceased created a will that leaves property to another person because, when property is titled only in the name of the deceased, no one else is able to sign documents relating to that asset. The probate court will name a person who has the ability to sign any necessary documents.
Second, if a family member has passed away with outstanding debt, the creditors have a certain time period to initiate probate proceedings and file a claim against the existing estate in order to get paid.
Third, probate proceedings are always initiated when both parents of a minor child pass away. Usually, the probate process names a legal guardian of the child to protect that child’s financial assets.
Finally, probate proceedings are most commonly initiated when family members disagree on the distribution of their loved one’s assets. When family members fights over the division of the estate, the process can become both costly and emotional. Therefore, have a reputable attorney draft estate planning documents and ensure those documents are always updated and accurate.
Amy M. Friedlander, Esq.